A buyer persona identifies who you are targeting with marketing initiatives.
It’s the go to foundation of all your marketing. You may have more than one. Your surveys, samples and interviews will flesh out the optimum profiles.
Know going in, there is more to this than just simply listing demographics. It’s a much deeper dive, if done correctly. And, you need to revisit this process once every 90-180 days to ensure your marketing strategy is on target.
Seven Critical Steps for Building an Accurate Persona
- You can’t make it up; interviewing a few sales or customer service reps and talking to 2-3 customers won’t cut the mustard. Your building a foundation on a house of cards that’s doomed to failure.
- Don’t confuse a basic customer demographic profile with a persona. The latter are a much deeper dive than a profile, giving you insights into the underlying characteristics of your optimum target. Think about how an actor infuses the deep characteristics for an Academy Award. It may sound a bit esoteric, but try it.
- Remember the old saying: “don’t take a knife to a gun fight” – don’t put an intern on the assignment or expect to create a personal after attending a half day seminar. This should be deep dive research done by people who understand marketing strategy and tactics.
- Great personas begin and end with a translation of marketing goals. Your integrating qualitative research: pain points, motivation, drivers, lifestyle, education, personalities that help to build a target which in turn defines tactical marketing processes.
- You need to understand the “information consumption” habits of your target market: TV, Blogs (which ones), Print, Social Platforms, Radio, Smartphone Apps (increasingly more important).
- Map the whole buyers journey from start to finish. Where are they in your sales funnel? Early on: Google search with keywords or topics, back end of the funnel, doing price comparison analysis. Build a road map that defines what the customers expectations were at a specific part of the journey and define what type of content you need to create to address their needs as they move through your sales funnel.
- Don’t bog down too far in the details. Yes, they are important, but whether or not your B2B buyer lives in the city or suburbs won’t make much of a difference as they do price comparison analysis on a high end software application. Details have to be relevant and in context.
How Buyer Personas Help Your Brand
- Buyer personas help to identify deep issues and behaviors that may not be on the surface. Your visiting a foreign country for the first time. Your customers may not tell you what they want; i.e. they are speaking a language you need to decipher (motivation, pain points, fears, wants, desires and needs).
- Quantitative research may not be sufficient for creating an accurate persona profile. It’s all about context too, the type of surveys used, size of the survey, questions and how this data is put together to identify a viable persona.
- All of your work has a tactical end game: to identify goal centered customer strategies. How to reach them, via what channel, frequency of messaging, types of content, sales funnel systems and back end lead capture systems. Don’t fall in love with the data: move to tactical marketing for testing.
- Buyer personas help brand understand who the customer is and how to reach them via a content marketing strategy that identifies platforms, long or short form content (“snackable content” or long form story), rinse and repeat frequency, with social engagement measurement and lead flow analysis.
Tactical Questions B2B Brands Need to Factor In during the process
- How do we generate incremental revenue at the back end of this process?
- How do we drive more leads?
- What type of content will help us to drive more web site traffic and social engagement and at what phase of the buyer’s journey?
- How do we grow our business with existing customers?
- What are our optimum Social Channels?
- What staffing issues need to be addressed and training?
- What impact does this process have on our pricing structure? What can we take away from the exercise?
- Are we “current” with existing technology? What infrastructure do we need to support
Differentiators for Consumer Facing Brands
- Whats the age demographic?
- Major concerns/pain identification?
- Education level?
- Marital status?
- Where they find information and make social connections?
- What are the key purchase drivers?
- What person in the family makes the buying decision?
- Preferred content and/or social channels?
- What images (as below) will get their attention?
Smart Tactical Issues for Savvy Persona Marketers
- Editorial Calendars help to add order to your tactical marketing and enable you to track content that maps to a specific persona, assuming you have more than one.
- Creating a visual picture with actual images (especially for consumer facing brands) can help you to keep the optimum persona in mind – it puts a “face” to your marketing processes.
- Don’t silo the processes; talk to sales and customer service and use sentiment analysis tools across your social media channels.
- Complaints are opportunities to help you fill in the picture better. Don’t ignore them. Every brand has holes in their radar screen.
- Polls and surveys should be part of your tactical marketing processes.
- Recognize pattern shifts in customer behavior: it’s a fluid world and brands need to listen and watch for and identify shifts in behavior.
- Back end ROI analysis needs to be integrated into the process; as above, big data is cool but incremental revenue is the ultimate measurement of any persona marketing process.
- Your ads gotta grab their attention like this one below. Your fighting content smog at every turn.
Key Takeaways for Persona Hungry Execs
Some business have never gone through this process and as a result, marketing activities may not have targeted messaging that will resonate with the right customer.
A well done brand persona analysis process helps your business define who you are marketing to, with some degree of certainty and accuracy.
All markets are in a constant state of flux. It’s not a do it once exercise and come back to it a year later. Do a refresh at least every quarter.
It’s a disciplined exercise that can only help you define who you are marketing to, but helps you define and map out your social channels, methods and platforms.